Legal Aid of East Central Indiana strives to promote equal access to justice for all Indiana residents, regardless of economic status, by creating and promoting opportunities for attorney to provide pro bono civil legal services to prersons of limited means.
"Our mission is to help bridge the gap to justice, by providing free and reduced legal services to the residents within our district," said Legal Aid of East Central Indiana Access to Justice Executive Director Amy Moore.
Moore has served as the district executive director since late July 2016.
According to Access to Justice's website, www.myjustice.org, some of the cases placed through Legal Aid of East Central Indiana have inlcuded guardianship, mortgage foreclosure, divorce, small estates and landlord-tenant law.
The volunteer attorneys of Access to Justice have been able to assist appoximately 100 litigants in Henry County and over 600 litigants in Delaware County since September of last year, Moore said.
"Legal Aid of East Central Indiana appreciates all the attorneys that are assisting in the community. We are always looking for additional volunteer attorneys to help," Moore said. "We simply could not do what we do without the continued support and services from those attorneys."
Access to Justice has also collaborated with the justice centers and local attorneys to facilitate Self-Help Centers in Henry and Delaware counties.
"These centers allow self-represented litigants access to many of the documents needed in civil matters and an attorney to assist in preparing those documents that are offered at the center," Moore said.
Marilyn J. Smith, director of civil justice programs at the Indiana Bar Foundation, explained that the Indiana Supreme court created the Indiana Pro Bono Comission in 1999 to direct the pro bono (free) efforts of the legal community to meet the civil legal aid needs of the indigent throughout the state.
Each district was guided by a grassroots plan and led by a local trial judge. District F's judicial appointee is Judge Kimberly S. Dowling, Delaware Circuit Court 2.
Legal Aid of East Central Indiana is funded through the Interest On Lawyer Trust Account (IOLTA) program. The Indiana Bar Foundation, with approval of the Indian Supreme Court, collects the interest to fund programs like Access to Justice that encourage pro bono work by Indiana lawyers.
The program can still use help.
"With the obvious need in the counties, we are always looking for financial donations and attorney services to keep the centers running efficient," Moore said.
Legal Aid of East Central Indiana employees do not answer legal questions. Instead they make eligibility determinations and attempt to make referrals with local attorneys.
Eligibility with Legal Aid of East Central Indiana does not guarantee that someone's case will be placed with an attorney. As a non-profit group, Legal Aid of East Central Indiana has limited resources. They receive several applications each year and are not obligated to place all cases.
However, pro bono legal services are not always the right choice for everyone.
It generally takes about two weeks to process applications. If the applicant qualifies for pro bono services, the referral process can take another two or three months. Therefore, if it is an emergency, like an immediate upcoming court hearing or an impending deadline, Access to Justice suggests making every attempt to obtain private counsel.
For more information on Legal Aid of East Central Indiana, visit www.myjustice.org or call 765-521-6979 or 1-800-910-4407. Office hours are 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday and Friday and 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday.